On his first day in office, President Joe Biden ordered construction to halt on Trump’s infamous border wall. But environmentalists and communities living along the border want him to go much further, tearing it down and reversing the wall’s damage.
Donald Trump set aside $15 billion for his “big beautiful wall” between the southern border of the U.S. and Mexico. About 455 miles had been constructed out of a planned 738 miles by the time Trump left office. The former president got his hands on the money by declaring a national emergency in 2019 and diverting tax dollars that would have otherwise gone to defense or counter-drug programs. But he didn’t spend a lot of time assessing the environmental and cultural impact. Hundreds of miles of land have been blasted and bulldozed, including protected public land and sites sacred to Native Americans.
Related: Trump administration disregards border wall’s environmental impact
“It’s a disaster, a mess, the suspended laws must be put back on the books to give border communities equal protection, and every section looked at carefully so that it can be torn down in a coordinated and responsible way, and the damage addressed immediately,” said Dan Mills, the Sierra Club’s borderlands program manager, as reported by The Guardian.
Community leaders are asking Biden to cancel outstanding wall-building contracts, send experts to assess damage, tear down the wall whenever possible and clean up all the metal, barbed wire and concrete. They also urge the president to rescind waivers suspending 84 federal laws pertaining to public lands, endangered species, clean air and water and Native American rights. They’ve asked him to withdraw lawsuits against private landowners lodged to seize their land by declaring eminent domain.
“It was a complete waste of money and poorly thought out, and is a constant unsightly reminder of Trump’s ugly approach to Latin America,” said retired professor Sylvia Ramirez. “The wall should never have gone up, we tried to fight it, and now it will be very difficult to undo.” Ramirez has relatives buried in historic cemeteries which are now cut off between the international border and Trump’s 30-foot wall.
Next month, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear a case brought by the ACLU, Sierra Club and the Southern Border Communities Commission about the legality of diverting billions from the Department of Defense without Congress’ okay.
Via The Guardian
Image via White House Archive